George Govan

Interviewer: Thomas Elmore Lucy

Person interviewed: George Govan

Russellville, Arkansas

Age: 52

"George Govan is my name, and I was born in Conway County somewheres in

December 1886--I guess it was about de seventeenth of December. We lived

there till 1911, when I come to Pope County. Both my parents was slaves

on de plantation of a Mr. Govan near Charleston, South Carolina. Dat's

where we got our name. Folks come to Arkansas after dey was freed. No

sir, I ain't edicated--never had de chance. Parents been dead a good

many years.

"Yas suh, my folks used to talk a heap and tell me lots of tales of

slavery days, and how de patrollers used to whip em when dey wanted to

go some place and didn't have de demit to go. Yas suh, dey had to have a

demit to go any place outside work hours. Dey whipped my mother and

father both sometimes, and dey sure was afraid of dem patrollers. Used

to say, 'If you don't watch out de patrollers'll git you.' Dey'd catch

de slaves and tie em up to a tree or a pos' and whip em wid buggy whips

and rawhides.

"Some of de slaves was promised land and other things when dey was

freed, and some wasn't promised nothin'. Some got land and a span of

mules, and some didn't get nothin'. No suh, my daddy didn't farm none at

first after he was freed because he didn't have no money to buy land,

but he done odd jobs here and there till he come to Arkansas seven or

eight years after the War.

"Yes, I owns my own home; been livin' in it for ten years, since I've

been workin' as janitor at dis Central Presbyterian Church. I belongs to

de Missionary Baptis' Church, but my parents were both Methodists.

"Sure did have lots of good songs in de old days, like 'Old Ship of

Zion' and 'On Jordan's Stormy Banks.' Used to have one that begins

'Those that 'fuse to sing never knew my God.' It was a purty piece; and

then there was another one about a 'Rough, rocky road.'

"De young people today has much better opportunities than when I was a

child, and much better than dey had in slavery days, because dar ain't

no patrollers to whip em. Most of em dese days has purty good behavior,

and I think dey're better than in de old days.

"I has always voted regularly since I come of age--votes de Republican

ticket. Can't read but a little, but I never had any trouble about


NOTE: George Govan is an intelligent Negro, fairly neat in his dress,

very tall and erect in stature. Brogue quite noticeable, and occasional

idioms that make his interview interesting and personal.

George G King George Greene facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail